Almanac

Schools - February 13, 2013

School tax hike measure goes on ballot

by Renee Batti

Voters in the Portola Valley School District will be asked in May to renew the district's parcel tax for eight years at a new rate that hikes the annual tax by $123 per parcel.

The school board on Feb. 6 unanimously approved placing the measure on the May 7 mail-in ballot. Passage will require approval by two-thirds of the voters.

If approved, property owners will see their annual parcel tax rise from $458 per parcel to $581.

The current tax was authorized by two ballot measures, C and D. Although both measures are effective through June 2014, the new higher-rate tax measure, if approved, will replace the current tax beginning July 2013. That means the tax would expire at the end of June 2021, according to Sandra Lepley, the district's interim chief business official.

The district, which oversees Ormondale and Corte Madera schools, raises almost $1 million annually with the current tax — nearly 10 percent of its budget. If passed, the new tax will raise an estimated $265,065 on top of that, according to the district.

Ballots will be mailed beginning April 8, according to a district consultant who spoke at a Jan. 23 board meeting.

Property owners 65 and older and people with disabilities who are receiving supplemental security income (SSI) are eligible for an exemption to the tax if they live on the property and they submit an application for the exemption each year.

Revenue from the tax is earmarked for educational programs with emphasis on science, math, reading and writing instruction; attracting and retaining experienced teachers; supporting arts and music programs; and maintaining small class size.

In a recent written statement, Superintendent Carol Piraino said that no revenue from the parcel tax will be used for administrator salaries, and an independent citizens' oversight committee and annual audits will be required "to ensure funds are used properly."

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